Karapatan said the killings and military abuses in the area were meant to sow terror among villagers.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Ellyboy Arozo Rey, 30, was killed on May 12 at Udoc village in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, during a clash between government troops and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
A fact-finding mission by Karapatan-Bicol revealed that residents heard Rey shout that he was a civilian. But it was followed by more gunshots, which lasted for at least five minutes. Rey sustained a fatal gunshot wound in his temple.
Later that day, Karapatan said Lt. Col. Joselito Pastrana, commander of the Philippine Army’s 42nd Infantry Battalion (IB), and a certain Ka Michael, NPA spokesperson, confirmed in separate radio interviews that there was indeed a clash between their forces. Pastrana confirmed that a civilian, referring to Rey, was killed.
Rey’s wife, Rosaley Perez, heard the gunshots from their house. Fearing for herself and their four children’s safety, they moved to her aunt’s house where she learned that her husband was shot. She immediately rushed to where the clash took place and found Rey still breathing.
She then begged the soldiers to bring Rey to the hospital. He was, however, declared dead on arrival at the town’s district hospital.
Soldiers provided Rey’s coffin and gave his family two boxes of canned goods.
Two farmers killed
In the island province of Masbate, on May 14, farmers Jomar Escorel and Ryan Almosara were gunned down at around 4 a.m. by suspected military agents between the villages of Canturna and Togoron in Monreal, Masbate. Their killings came right after Karapatan conducted a fact-finding mission on reported abuses of soldiers in the area.
Escorel and Almosara had frequently joined various mass actions in the region.
Vince Casilihan, spokesperson of Karapatan-Bicol, told Bulatlat.com that the two were not part of their fact-finding mission, and their deaths had no clear connection to the mission.
Casilihan, however, said that both the killings and military abuses in the area were meant to sow terror among residents. Soldiers from the 9th IB were deployed in the area in the guise of protecting government projects, he said.
He said the killings show how the Aquino administration has turned its back on the people, as the military violates human rights and international humanitarian law.
Casihilan said the 9th Infantry Division troops create virtual garrisons and base as they continue to position themselves in the middle of civilian populations, and occupy public structures such as schools and day care centers, chapels, and barangay halls in the region.